Friday, 2 May 2014

Batman- Detective Comics Vol. 1: Faces of Death (The New 52) Review

When you can't afford a bouquet, say it
with severed heads.
Writer/Artist: Tony S Daniel

Collects: Batman- Detective Comics #1-7

Background Information:

Batman, if anything, is Detective Comics. The man we know as the Dark Knight made his debut 75 years ago in the series in Detective Comics #27.

Since then, Batman’s gone through multiple transformations. He stopped using guns, he started employing 12-year-olds as sidekicks, and went from a black cape to a blue one and back to a black one. But throughout Batman’s entire lifespan, Detective Comics has been there, focussing on mystery over action and intrigue over fisticuffs. To say it’s a big deal would be an understatement.

Review:

For the one title that should really be central to understanding who Batman is, Faces of Death gives the impression of having no idea who Batman is at all. A strong plot is let down by essentially awful scripting that the rather average artwork does nothing to conceal.
The guy has multiple cars, motorcycles, jets, helicopters and
even a hang-glider, yet we're treated to page-spreads of this
guy RUNNING!

So Faces of Death focuses on a villain known as the Dollmaker; a man who has a sick penchant for takingBatman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls, except here, it’s got a lot more significance to future Batman (specifically, Death of the Family), and the mystery surrounding the Dollmaker is interesting.His hobbies include capturing people, cutting them up and putting their pieces back together in Frankenstein’s monster-styled freakshows. The plotline itself is rather good, it teases the Joker in much the same way that Scott Snyder did in

The problem, though, is that while Tony S Daniel is a fantastic plotter, he’s a less-than-average scripter.

Faces of Death is peppered by some of the most awful dialogue I have read in a comic. Right off the bat (pun intended, but it’s not hyperbole, it’s literally on the first page), we’re treated with such gems as “his MO changes with the wind... and it’s been windy in Gotham.” If that line doesn’t make you cringe, you have a problem. Unfortunately, it’s not something that gets better, we’re later treated to lines like Bruce’s “I can see them [his love interest’s eyes] and they’re shooting daggers,” to which the love interest replies with “Then kiss me before you bleed to death.” They’re the most obvious examples of poor scripting, but Tony S. Daniel continues with that standard throughout the book, creating more melodrama than mysterious intrigue and lowering any interest that’s likely to come out of the mystery.

In short, Tony S Daniel writes the plot like it’s designed for Christian Bale’s Batman, yet scripts for Adam West, and that disharmony shows.

I never thought I’d see the day when a Batman story would entertain me less than Battle for the Cowl (also written by Tony S Daniel) did. Yet, here I am today, writing about a story that was, quite honestly, poorly scripted. The art, unfortunately, doesn’t alleviate any of those problems. It’s decent; Tony S Daniel draws a good Batman, but it’s neither anywhere near the standard set by Greg Capullo in the titular Batman book nor does it really get a chance to shine due to Daniel’s poor scripting.

Foreshadowing? What's Foreshadowing?
I don't know this word Foreshadowing?
I think the big problem for Tony S Daniel is that he tries to be both writer and artist on too many story arcs. He, in particular, needs to choose a side. He strikes me as someone who is overworked on this title, and cannot admit that he needs to cut down. Like I said, the plot for Faces of Death is solid, but scripting suffers because Daniel seems to want to control every aspect of this book. Comics are team efforts and they’re best when two very different people and that’s something that the big guns at DC haven’t understood here.

Faces of Death has potential, and I can’t see it going anywhere, but this volume isn’t the strongest testimony to the legacy of Detective Comics it gets a two out of five windy moments in Gotham.

Urgh... what a line!

**

+ Plotted well

- Scripted poorly

- Art doesn’t distract from script

Alternate Option: Batman: The Court of Owls


When this story is going around, it’s weird that you would consider anything else.